Dogs are a real blessing to a family and bring so much joy and happiness, so it’s no wonder that most children will at some point bring up the question of when they’re getting a dog. As much as dogs are cute, loyal and lots of fun, they’re also a huge responsibility, and this is obviously something that children don’t understand, so it’s important that this is something you don’t allow yourself to be pressured into if a dog is not something your lifestyle or circumstances are suited to.
For example, if you’re someone who has to travel a lot for work, or just who likes to travel a lot in general, then even if you’re someone who completely loves animals and has the space for a dog, it’s simply not going to be a suitable lifestyle because pets - dogs especially require a good routine and stability, plus it’s also not fair to them if you’re constantly gone or they have to go and stay with your friends and family since they need to feel secure that they have a home.
One of the most common reactions among parents who are faced with the “can we get a dog?” question is that they’ll be left to take care of it and walk it, which is often the case. However, this doesn’t have to be the case for you, and can actually be a prime opportunity for you to teach your children about responsibility, which will serve them very well later in life.
Of course it’s not going to be as simple as just telling them that they will have to care for the dog or at least play a big role in helping, but how you approach the issue with your children before getting a dog will be up to you and how you know your children to be.
For example, telling them about the consequences of what might happen should they not keep their end of the deal and that the dog may have to go away and could end up with a not so good owner or even in a shelter are good ways to teach them their actions are important and they have consequences. It’s not something you’re lying about either, since this is actually one of the heartbreaking things that happen when families get dogs without being ready or properly prepared to look after them.
Many parents are afraid of bringing a dog into the house because they fear that their children will pick up germs and get sick. However, the opposite is actually true, and exposure to dogs can actually boost their immunity. Of course, it’s always crucial to practice good hygiene and use common sense when dealing with dogs, such as washing hands, etc. But keeping your kids totally shielded from any germs or bacteria can actually cause them to get more things like colds and flu since their immune system won’t have built up natural resistance to it.
Dogs are well-known to be some of the best companions around. They may not speak, but it’s somehow as if they just know the right things to do to make us feel better. This can be especially great for kids who deal with loneliness, or even an only child. Dogs are often brought in as companions to places like retirement homes for this very reason, so if your child seems to be isolated or you worry about them spending too much alone, then a dog could be just the thing to bring them out of their shell.
Between the multiple daily walks, playing fetch in the garden and simply chasing each other around the living room, your dog will certainly keep your child active, which is never a bad thing for children - especially these days where they all seem more interested in starting at an iPad for hours on end instead of experiencing real life.
Dogs are notoriously protective of their owners and families, so if you want to feel like your child is that little bit more safe, especially when walking somewhere on their own, then a dog could be a perfect way to create some security since they will do anything to protect your child and especially if it’s a larger dog such as a German Shepherd, then they can also be quite intimidating, so people are less likely to try and come near a child with a dog like that.
A dog can help ward off depression and anxiety:
Many studies have shown that dogs and cats can rapidly and drastically boost the mood of someone who’s feeling low or who is suffering from depression or anxiety. They are very intuitive animals and just always seem to know what’s wrong and what to do, so if you worry about your child in any of these ways, then a dog could be the ideal companion to help them feel better.
If dogs are known to be anything it’s that they’re completely selfless and show unconditional love in all situations, so if these are things you want your child to learn about and exhibit as they grow up, then a dog through its actions will teach them this better than any book or talks ever will.
Another thing that dogs are notorious for is their complete loyalty to their owners, and loyalty is something that’s a very important trait for your children to learn as they grow up, so if you want to show them how important this is and how to display it, then getting a dog could actually be an ideal way to teach them this very useful life skill.
Since dogs teach children a great deal of responsibility and so many other important life skills, then it’s only natural that they will boost their confidence as they see their actions with the dog having an impact. From things like teaching the dog how to sit and fetch and stopping a puppy pulling everything in sight apart and other aspects of being in charge of training them and looking after them and seeing how rewarding that is, their confidence will soar, which is a great thing for a child because there are so many things out there ready to knock their confidence, so the earlier it’s instilled in them, the more it’s likely to stick and hopefully grow as they get older.
As you can see, there are definitely a lot of ways that having a dog will benefit your child, but that doesn’t mean you should feel pressured into it if you know that your lifestyle simply won’t accommodate. You have to do what’s best for your family and for the dog, so don’t be tempted just to bring one into the house because you love animals and your child wants one.